Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday called the BJP’s estranged ally, the Shiv Sena, a “friend” as he hinted at talks being held between the two parties for a possible rapprochement.
“The Shiv Sena has always been our friend. I think talks will reach decisive stage soon,” the 44-year-old chief minister said at the 12th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
He, however, ruled out the RSS’s role in the talks. “The RSS never mediates. The RSS never advises me on how to run the government.”
The Shiv Sena is currently sitting in the opposition after severing its 25-year alliance with the BJP over seat-sharing differences before last month’s assembly polls.
Fadnavis said at least he didn’t do an Arvind Kejriwal as he defended the decision to accept the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) support that helped his BJP-led minority government survive a confidence motion through a controversial voice vote in the assembly nine days ago.
“I had two choices … either to shun responsibility and run away like Arvind Kejriwal or to take over the reins and let my action speak louder than words.”
“We have to do certain things. The NCP had unilaterally announced its support for our government. Of course, we didn’t say yes or reject their support either. I must admit that I faced more criticism in three days following the trust vote than I have in 22 years of my political career. I felt some discomfort in accepting the NCP’s support,” he said, candid enough to admit his discomfiture because the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had called the NCP a “Nationally Corrupt Party”.
He insisted that his government would not be vindictive but, at the same time, wouldn’t go soft either on the NCP and the Congress. “The guilty will not be spared just because they supported us. But I have to identify the faults on which actions can be taken. I can see such acts in scams such as Adarsh (housing society scandal),” he said.
The young chief minister, at the session moderated by NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, elaborated his roadmap for reshaping Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, where he plans to create more business districts on the lines of Bandra Kurla Complex “to make commercial destinations affordable to investors”.
“Once Maharashtra changes, India will also change,” he said, illustrating his dream to make Mumbai the global financial hub.
Dwelling on “States hold the key to India's makeover”, the topic for his session, Fadnavis said Maharashtra could set benchmarks for others pursuing Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative because his state “contributes the most to the country’s GDP; contributes most to industrial output”.
“In a few months, if you want to start a unit in Maharashtra, you will not need to wait for three years, it’ll be done in one to three months.”
Fadnavis promised to aggressively push e-governance at all levels, remove red tapes in business and make the state “loadshedding-free” over the next few years. He identified the state’s agrarian crisis as the biggest challenge for his government.
The man who has the lyrics of 2,000 songs stored in his brain, not in some plastic memory card, said he wasn’t much of a singer. He also recalled having done a modeling assignment in 2004 that fetched the “model” MLA a pat on the back from Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Maharashtra now awaits a “model CM” in Fadnavis.
HT Leadership Summit